Oct 2, 2012

[Books] Regarding Ducks and Other Universes

Admittedly, I find myself falling for the Kindle Daily Deal more often than I'd like. There's that line we all have in our heads for whether something is worth buying or not and dropping the rates for any title under 2 dollars often makes it very tempting indeed. And while a lot of the books are relatively less popular than others out there, it doesn't mean that they aren't worth a second glance.

This was another case of "I bought the book because its title," that much I'll admit. It seemed to have that precise blend of wit, humor, and quirkiness all in 4 words and so it seemed like a good deal at the time. But as is often the case for such purchases, it took me quite a while before I finally got around to actually reading the book after I had originally purchased it.

And now I regret having waited so long.

That's the quirkiness of my interest in science fiction. I find it very hard to get started with new authors since there's a fair amount of sub-par science fiction out there. I've been burned a few times and that can really suck and it makes it harder to try again. So leave it to me to wait for books to become cheaper or to get them via review programs in order to expand my horizons. At least I'm still trying to do so.

Synopsis: Regarding Ducks and Universes is a science fiction mystery novel of sorts written by Neve Maslakovic. The book was originally one of the Top 100 in the 2009 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest and was initially published through the AmazonEncore program.

The book is told from the perspective of one Felix Sayers, a man from "Universe A" who makes a living by creating user guides for various kitchen appliances. He's finally decided to take a vacation of sorts by visiting "Universe B" - which is a parallel version of Earth that had been created in a science experiment. Now people can travel to and from each Universe, although governed by a number of stringent rules that prevent literal identity theft of your alternate self.

One of the things that make the universes somewhat distinct is the fact that only people who were born before Universe B had been created are those that have alternate selves. Everyone born after are "uniques" with not counterpart in the other universe. And for most of his life, Felix thought he was a unique and had missed the key date by a few months. But with the passing of his aunt, he discovers that he was actually born before the event. And that's what has really brought him to Universe B - to see out his Alter, albeit against all regulations about traveling between the universes, and to see what his Alter's life is like compared to his own.

At first I wasn't quite sure how I felt about the book. It certainly had an interesting premise involve alternate universes and how the two realities co-exist since a almost Fringe-like way to things. The only difference is the fact that travel between universes is quite easy whereas Fringe had it limited only to those who absolutely needed to do so. But I digress.

Now once our author sets up the basic premise behind her quirky joined universes, that's when the real fun begins. Initially we just have Felix trying to secretly find out more about the life of his Alter in Universe B, but in time we realize there's a lot more at stake than just satisfying his curiosity. The irony is not lost on my that Felix's own love for mystery novels proves to be most timely given he himself becomes part of a larger mystery at work. And so the book eventually plays out like a classic mystery that's set in a larger science fiction universe. Or in this case, universes.

And while the author has some major science credentials to her name, this does not mean the book is boring and academic. In fact she manages to maintain a rather light and comical style despite the fact that our protagonist even suspects that his life may be in danger at some point in the novel. For a debut venture, this was a very comfortable read that flowed really well for me. And I'd like to think that a lot of you - geeky or otherwise - may come to enjoy this book as well.

Regarding Ducks and Universes is a light and witty science fiction romp that is a fun read and kind of book that you may want to return to more than once. I'm now curious to see what other works of fiction the author may involve herself in, but for now we'll have to be happy with this one. I rate this four instances of ducks actually being part of the story out of a possible 5.

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